Estimates indicate that Nova Scotia will more than double electricity generation by 2050. The heating and cooling of buildings, increased use of data stored in the “cloud”, and growing interest in electric vehicles are just a few examples of why demand will rise. This awareness compels the Ecology Action Centre (EAC) to explore options for clean, reliable and affordable energy. We must prevent further damage to our shared environment.
Fortunately, opportunities exist that point the way toward a more energy efficient future.
Our 2019 report Accelerating the Coal Phase Out: Nova Scotia and the Climate Emergency charts the path for a low-carbon electricity system in Nova Scotia. It proposes a scenario that leads to 90 per cent renewable electricity, a complete phase-out of coal power, and significant increases in energy efficiency and electric transportation – all by the year 2030. This report is the first of its kind in Atlantic Canada and demonstrates that phasing out coal in Nova Scotia is possible, timely, and necessary.
This report is an extensive technical and modelling exercise for what an electricity grid with more than 90 per cent renewable electricity, and a complete transition away from coal-fired electricity generation by 2030 would look like in Nova Scotia.
The proposed pathway would lead to significant overall greenhouse gas emissions reductions - more than 69 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 or a provincial total of about 7.3 million tonnes.
Key measures and results from the low-carbon pathway in the report include:
Substantial increases in energy efficiency programming by the year 2030 such as: 80 per cent of residential and commercial buildings receive deep-energy retrofits; major shifts to heat pumps for space heating and hot water; shifts away from oil and natural gas heating; and efficiency gains in lighting and other appliances.
A doubling of wind power, with the addition of 600 to 800 MW.
Significantly increasing solar power, with the addition of about 480 MW.
Building a second transmission link to New Brunswick, and importing about 200MW of existing hydroelectricity capacity from Quebec.
The Federal government’s analysis has shown that phasing out coal electricity in Nova Scotia by 2030 would avoid 89 premature deaths, 8,000 asthma episodes, and 58,000 days of breathing difficulty for Nova Scotians, among other benefits. Unfortunately, coal-fired electricity remains our province’s single largest electricity generation source. It’s also our largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions. Continuing to reduce our dependence on coal and transitioning to a fossil-free electricity system are the keys to positive change.
Holistic Network Design for Offshore Wind & Interregional Planning
Interested in learning more about how increasing trade of energy between provinces can support our renewable energy transition and decarbonization efforts? Check out our webinar from Oct. 12, 2022, where we expand thinking beyond the Atlantic Loop, explore possibilities for incorporating offshore wind into the energy mix in Eastern Canada and consider how holistic network design could help build an electricity system in Atlantic Canada which balances economic, reliability, environmental and community impacts and considerations. Watch the webinar below or read the summary for policy makers here.
This report models various net-zero and Atlantic Loop scenarios. It also demonstrates a rapid decline in emissions for both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in the net-zero simulations, which is attributed to the coal phase-out targets.
Watch a panel discussion on our Atlantic Loop report below.
We've highlighted and discussed various clean electricity supply scenarios to decarbonize Atlantic Canada by 2050. The report is a part of our Atlantic Vision for a future where electricity is affordable, reliable and sustainable.
To transform our coal-dependent electricity regime, Nova Scotia must evolve from old, outdated legislation.
We are more informed and better prepared to prioritize clean, affordable, and reliable electricity now than ever before. This starts with a legislated sustainability mandate that gives clear prioritization of environmental and social outcomes to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (NSUARB) using a three-pronged approach:
Create a standalone mandate provision which includes a sustainability mandate.
Establish a legislated statement of provincial electricity policy which incorporates sustainability considerations.
Legislate a list of relevant sustainability principles which illustrates how the sustainability mandate should be interpreted.
Other jurisdictions have moved in this direction, and it is time Nova Scotia followed.
In this 2021 report from East Coast Environmental Law, read about whether sustainability mandates in Canadian and New England jurisdictions offer useful models for the NSUARB. The report also analyzes key legislative language and proposes amendments to the Public Utilities Act or Electricity Act or corresponding regulations and explains how those amendments would further the EAC’s goals for electricity reform in Nova Scotia.
Transitioning from fossil fuel–powered electricity to clean, renewable sources is the foundation for many policies needed to effectively address the climate crisis. The Ecology Action Centre commissioned Torrie Smith Associates to author a technical and modelling report as to what an electricity grid with more than 90% renewable electricity, and a complete transition away from coal-fired electricity generation by 2030, would look like in Nova Scotia.
A generation mix of about 43 per cent wind, 5 per cent solar, 43 per cent hydro and 9 per cent natural gas by 2030.
A doubling of wind power in Nova Scotia, with the addition of 600 to 800 MW.
Significantly increasing solar power in Nova Scotia, with the addition of about 480 MW.
Building a second transmission link to New Brunswick and importing about 200MW of existing hydroelectricity capacity from Quebec.
Shifting to 100 per cent renewable electricity is possible. It’s also better for our health, the environment and affordability. With our electricity sector poised to double by 2030, a change from coal, one of the most polluting forms of energy worldwide, is critical to meeting our climate targets.
As Nova Scotia’s electricity demands increase, our need to transition to renewable energy becomes more urgent. But how much do we really know about our electricity systems and our power as citizens to shape them? It’s important for us all to know how to affect change in our systems to help move our province toward clean, reliable and affordable energy. This transition is possible, and it has the power to make our lives better now and for future generations.
When you know the system, you can advocate for a better one. Use our Energy system Demystifier to learn how the system works so you can help us strive for a better energy future for all Nova Scotians. Be informed, get involved and help our province move toward a clean energy future!Read the guide here!